Under-18s earn morale-boosting friendly win
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s made light of their extended spell without a game by marching to victory against Hayes & Yeading on Saturday.
With their scheduled Football League Youth Alliance match at Southend having been called off, the young Dons needed a match after not playing since mid-December and manager Mark Robinson was impressed with their return to action after a 2-0 win at Hayes.
Egli Kaja (pictured) provided a half-time lead for Wimbledon and they sealed victory near the end thanks to a superb header from Harry Bruce, who acquitted himself well after stepping up from the college squad.
Hayes were certainly no pushovers and Wimbledon needed resolute defending from their back three of Taylor Roles, Ryan Sweeney and Ben Harrison to keep out the hosts. It did not take long before Roles was making a good impression at the other end as he started the move that led to Wimbledon making it 1-0. He picked out Callum Overton on the right and the forward, who was impressive throughout, set-up Egli Kaja to finish expertly with his left foot.
Wimbledon had to dig in to hold onto their lead up until half-time though with Danny Gallagher, Billy Frost and Renato Morais forced into defensive work after the trio had dominated midfield earlier on.
Though Hayes enjoyed the majority of possession in the first 20 minutes after the break, Wimbledon continued to be a threat on the counter-attack with substitutes Harlen Basker and Daniel Ageyi both coming close. However, there was better to come for Wimbledon when they sealed victory with 15 minutes to play. It was defender Bruce who earned his reward for a brave header after the Hayes goalkeeper had failed to hold onto an Oliver Haines corner.
Mark Robinson said: “Without a competitive game for a few weeks, this was the perfect match for us. It was easy to see why Hayes are top of their league and have beaten some top academy sides. We did very well today because we limited a very good side to no clear goalscoring opportunities. We also created a lot of chances ourselves through good movement and attacking play. The boys seem to be growing in confidence, but they just need to keep reminding themselves that nobody gives you anything. It has to be earned.”